Sunday, 10 February 2013

S4.130 - Prime Directives


"Hey, newsflash!" Cubi inflected, her ponytail bobbing. "Hey, a new prime number has been discovered - the largest yet!"

"And we're the prime polynomials to tell you about it," Quinn said, crossing her arms defiantly.

Para smiled, her quadratic bunny ears twitching. "So, quick history - the prime was discovered by Curtis Cooper on January 25th, 2013, following 39 days of checking. It was then independently verified, and the news broke on February 5th."

"Hey, the last time a prime was found was in 2009," Cubi continued. "And that wasn't the largest at the time - it was situated in between two primes found in 2008."

"In fact, in finding this largest prime, we've skipped over at least 14,772,551 others! Mr. Honner did the maths there," Quinn noted.

"Hurry up and mention GIMPS," Expona said, stepping into the picture.

"E-Expona, you can't just interrupt!" Para protested.

"The new number, 2(57,885,161) – 1, involves an exponent, so watch me," the redhead shot back. She faced the camera. "It's a Mersenne prime, found by the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. Now, such primes should not be confused with simple Mersenne numbers, which are any number 2n – 1. Here the result is prime... and so by definition n must also be prime!"

Sexi sauntered in next to her.  "Of course, the reverse, not true; try n=11. That said, there may yet be other Mersenne numbers less than this 48th one just found... and this one MIGHT even be the largest. Because while primes are proven infinite, Mersenne primes are not. Yet."

"Sexi, get out of here!" Quinn said sharply. "You're degree six! Not prime!"

"But perfect," Sexi reminded, fluffing her hair.

"Hey, right, there's a connection between Mersenne primes and perfect numbers," Cubi said, facepalming. "Hey, saw that on Numberphile..."

"Oh! We were going to plug that Numberphile did a video about the newest prime too!" Para said brightly, clasping her hands. "They even mention it in binary."

"Yeah, Para, Mersennes aren't difficult in binary!" Expona sputtered. "Think about it."

Elly poked her head into the frame. "Let's plug the Index Out of Bounds comic now too, things are about to get even more off track."

"Never mind, Elly. It's conic time, now that the polynomials have screwed things up," Circe said, marching past her cousin. "So, let's talk about how the media's reported on this new prime!"

"I was ABOUT to say how Aperiodical gave a nice roundup of things in the UK," Quinn shot back at the circle.

"And I was about to talk about the US!" Circe fired back. "Where online, Fox News first botched the math, as well as said, quote, 'There is little mathematical value to finding a single new prime'."

"Actually," Tangent murmured at Lyn, off to the side, "THEY were just quoting from a New Scientist article... that fact is often forgotten, or unknown."

"Mmm. There's a reason why, this past week, Fox News was simultaneously chosen as the Least Trusted and Most Trusted News Network," the line answered with a sigh.

"Hey, ANYWAY," Cubi cut back in, "a better article would be the one on cnet, which not only goes into the computing aspect but quotes 'Once a mathematical curiosity, primes now are crucial to encrypted communications'!"

"And Canada reported too!" Root said, jumping in next to the rest of the relations, arms outstretched. "In fact, CBC correctly reported 'Prime numbers are numbers greater than 1 that can't be divided by any numbers other than themselves or 1 to generate a whole number.'" He beamed. "Did you know the 39th Mersenne prime was found by a volunteer in Canada in 2001??"

"Of COURSE! Don't you know anything about science?!" answered a new voice.  Everyone turned to see ArcSin, aka Nis, sporting odd swirly glasses and a lab coat as he shook his fist in the air. There was an extended pause.

"Ooo-kaaaaay," Quinn said to break the silence. "Whatever, Doctor Nisano. I think we're done here."

"But... can I at least mention how the Electronic Frontier Foundation awards thousands of dollars to certain sized primes?" Para protested.

"We're DONE here," the quintic reiterated. She dropped to the floor and V-kicked the camera tripod.


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